Decemburger: Haddingtons

First came 50 Burgers, 50 Days. Then Novemburger. 2011 wraps up with a burger a day for Decemburger.
Day 16: Haddingtons
601 W. Sixth St. 992-0204,
MARCH 2013 UPDATE: Haddingtons has closed.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 12.16.11
With the look and feel of what all those fake English pubs just wish they had, Haddingtons is restaurant architect Michael Hsu’s most comfortable space. It’s cordoned into a warren of rooms: a main barroom with a fully functional and serious bar staff that makes its own ginger beer and turns out a perfect Aviation ($9) with gin, maraschino, creme de violet and lemon, served neat and cold. Its piney, herbal sweetness is a direct foil to New Belgium’s La Folie sour ale  ($7), a rare treat on draft and the sign of a well-tended beer menu. Another room comes across like a fox-hunter’s drawing room, and still another wing is a full-on hush-hush tavern-style lounge.
It’s been a long, strange trip down a short road for Haddingtons since it opened in January. It’s seen the departure of founding chef Zack Northcutt and has already said goodbye to his replacement, and star barkeep Bill Norris left to run the beverage program for the Alamo Drafthouse chain. Under current chef Chris Turgeon, Haddingtons’ menu is a high-low meritage of pork cracklings, duck meatloaf, seared scallops, caviar with johnnycakes and braised lamb neck. If this is tavern food, it’s certainly New Tavern, where everybody knows your credit card.
The burger: The Haddingtons burger is a pricey $14 with thick, food-service-style fries. It’s a double decker in a tri-cut bun with the thick texture and dark shine of a pretzel. The two beef patties are fatty and simply seasoned, letting them play against a thick and spicy pickle relish like chow-chow and a thin but powerful spread of blue cheese fondue. For $3, it’s worth adding bacon with the giant smokehouse profile and pedigree of Allan Benton’s famed Tennessee farm. It’s a monster mouthful, with the relish out front and everybody else doing a rich dance right behind it. It’s better by several factors than the original Haddingtons burger, a more sedate rendition starring wine-braised leeks.
Fries or rings? Ignore the fries and order a little pot of egg custard with warm, toasted bread for $4. It’s like you took the very best yolky bits of a dozen fried eggs and condensed them into two tablespoons, ready to spread on those last crusty bits of breakfast toast. It’s a meal by itself, or at least one worth appreciating on its own, bite by luscious bite.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
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